Emergency Operations Center to be activated as major storm sweeps across state; up to 15 inches of snow expected in North Country
Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 6:19 pm

With a major storm due to hit New York State, the state Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be activated at noon Friday to monitor the snowfall and coordinate response efforts, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The National Weather Service is forecasting up to 15 inches of snow in St. Lawrence County during the next 48 hours.

Snowfall is expected to begin Thursday evening and continue through Friday night in the North Country, with the heaviest snowfall expected during the day Friday. The storm could be even more severe downstate, forecasters say.

The weather service has issued a winter storm watch and hazardous weather outlook for the North Country due to the oncoming storm from 10 p.m. Thursday through 1 p.m. Saturday.

For up-to-date forecasts for your community, visit the NorthCountryNow.com Weather Page.

Representatives from state agencies will be present at the State EOC to coordinate storm response efforts, including Office of Emergency Management, Department of Environmental Conservation, Office of Fire Prevention and Control, Office of General Services, Department of Health, Public Service Commission, National Grid, Division of State Police, , Department of Transportation and the American Red Cross, the governor said.

Travelers are encouraged to check road conditions before venturing out by accessing NYSDOT’s free 511NY traffic and travel information system, which provides real-time travel information, by calling 511 or visiting www.511NY.org.

The website features a winter travel advisory system, with real-time travel reports and a color-coded map indicating which state roads are snow covered, ice covered, wet, dry, or closed to help drivers determine if travel is advisable.

State police are working closely and coordinating with local County Emergency Operations Centers across the state as needed and are prepared for the potential increase in service calls for evacuations and medical emergencies, the governor’s office said.

The governor’s office has told National Grid that they need to be ready with advance preparations and response plans. Earlier today, National Grid announced that it is taking a series of advance steps to prepare for an incoming storm, including securing hundreds of extra work crews, adding call center personnel and arranging schedules to allow extended coverage.

Public Service Commission Chairman Garry Brown has contacted the CEOs of all the major utilities to confirm storm preparation efforts.

The New York Power Authority statewide generation and transmission facilities are prepared for the storm, the governor said. NYPA has added extra personnel on shift during the storm and ensured emergency generators are fueled and ready.

NYPA line crews are prepared for dispatch, Cuomo said.

"I urge New Yorkers to closely watch local news reports for weather updates and adjust their travel plans accordingly, including avoiding non-essential travel during and directly after the storm since roads will be icy with blizzard conditions in some places,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The governor advised drivers to take extra caution and only travel when necessary during the storm. He noted some of the most important tips for safe winter driving include:

· Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Remember that the highway ahead of the plow is usually snow-covered;

· Adjust speed for road conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles;

· Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations;

· Assume that bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces;

· Watch for black ice, which can be difficult to see but makes conditions slippery when pavement temperatures are below freezing;

· Have a cell phone handy, if possible, but do not text while driving; distracted driving is illegal and becomes even more dangerous during storm events;

· Never venture from your vehicle if snowbound;

· Equip your car with emergency supplies including sand, shovel, flares, booster cables, rope, ice scraper, portable radio, flashlight, blankets and extra warm clothes;

· Inform a responsible person of your destination, intended route, and estimated time of arrival; and

· Keep calm and do not panic in case of a vehicle breakdown, accident, or if you become snowbound.

Meanwhile, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety warns that power outages can be expected, and offers safety tips for generator usage at www.disastersafety.org/flood/using-generators-safely/.

The institute also offers a list of resources to assist homeowners in avoiding property damage during severe weather. For tips on avoiding home damage check out the following links:

• Advice for Staying Safe and Warm - www.disastersafety.org/freezing_weather/advice-for-staying-safe-and-warm....

• Alternative Heating - www.disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/alternative-heating.pdf.

• Installing Weather Stripping & Seals - www.disastersafety.org/disastersafety/installing-weather-stripping-seals/.

• Prevent Roof Collapse on Homes - www.disastersafety.org/freezing_weather/prevent-roof-collapse/.

• Preventing Frozen Pipes - www.disastersafety.org/freezing_weather/prevent-frozen-pipes/.

• Preventing Ice Dams on Homes - www.disastersafety.org/freezing_weather/preventing-ice-dams-on-homes/.

• Reducing the Risk of Tree Damage - www.disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/trees-pamphlet-residential.pdf.

• Using Generators Safely - www.disastersafety.org/flood/using-generators-safely/.

• Prepare Surroundings - www.disastersafety.org/hurricane/prepare-surroundings/.